Joseph Stiglitz o splošni teoriji globokih depresij

Novi paper Josepha Stiglitza, ki poskuša opredeliti bolj splošen pristop k oblikovanju makroekonomskih teorij, ki bi lahko pojasnile globoke depresije. Pri tem morajo makro teorije odgovoriti na tri ključna vprašanja: (1) Kaj povzroča velike oscilacije v gospodarstvu (vzroki)? (2) Kako pojasniti velik obseg volatilnosti (globina)? in (3) Kako pojasniti njihovo persistentnost (trajanje?. Stiglitz pravi, da (neoklasične) teorije realnih poslovnih ciklov (RBC) in neokeynesianske teorije z nominalnimi rigidnostmi v cenah in plačah lahko sicer pojasnijo določene zgodovinske epizode, nimajo pa odgovora na to, kaj povzroča velike depresije, kot je tudi zadnja, zakaj so tako globoke in zakaj tako dolgo trajajo. Ker je večina globokih depresij sledila ekscesivni kreditni ekspanziji, bi morale makro teorije zajeti finančni sektor, proces ustvarjanja kreditov in bančni sektor, ki imajo bistveno večjo vlogo kot v preteklosti.

Spodaj sta uvod in sklep iz Stiglitzevega članka. Se splača prebrati njegovo kritiko RBC teorij in neokeynesianskih teorij, manifestiranih v DSGE modelih, pri čemer se v prvih take krize sploh ne morejo zgoditi, druge pa so narejene zgolj za “lepo vreme”, za nizke oscilacije gospodarstva. Obe veji pa seveda ignorirata finančni sektor, ki je običajno v ozadju globokih kriz.


The world has been plagued by episodic deep downturns. The crisis that began in 2008 in the United States was the most recent, the deepest and longest in three quarters of a century. It came in spite of alleged “better” knowledge of how our economic system works, and belief among many that we had put economic fluctuations behind us. Our economic leaders touted the achievement of the Great Moderation.[2] As it turned out, belief in those models actually contributed to the crisis. It was the assumption that markets were efficient and self-regulating and that economic actors had the ability and incentives to manage their own risks that had led to the belief that self-regulation was all that was required to ensure that the financial system worked well , an d that there was no need to worry about a bubble.

The idea that the economy could, through diversification, effectively eliminate risk contributed to complacency — even after it was evident that there had been a bubble. Indeed, even after the bubble broke, Bernanke could boast that the risks were contained.[3] These beliefs were supported by (pre-crisis) DSGE models — models which may have done well in more normal times, but had little to say about crises. Of course, almost any “decent” model would do reasonably well in normal times. And it mattered little if, in normal times , one model did a slightly better job in predicting next quarter’s growth. What matters is predicting — and preventing — crises, episodes in which there is an enormous loss in well-being. These models did not see the crisis coming, and they had given confidence to our policy makers that, so long as inflation was contained — and monetary authorities boasted that they had done this — the economy would perform well. At best, they can be thought of as (borrowing the term from Guzman (2014) “models of the Great Moderation,” predicting “well” so long as nothing unusual happens. More generally, the DSGE models have done a poor job explaining the actual frequency of crises.[4]

Of course, deep downturns have marked capitalist economies since the beginning. It took enormous hubris to believe that the economic forces which had given rise to crises in the past were either not present, or had been tamed, through sound monetary and fiscal policy.[5] It took even greater hubris given that in many countries conservatives had succeeded in dismantling the regulatory regimes and automatic stabilizers that had helped prevent crises since the Great Depression. It is noteworthy that my teacher, Charles Kindleberger, in his great study of the booms and panics that afflicted market economies over the past several hundred years had noted similar hubris exhibited in earlier crises. (Kindleberger, 1978)

Those who attempted to defend the failed economic models and the policies which were derived from them suggested that no model could (or should) predict well a “once in a hundred year flood.” But it was not just a hundred year flood — crises have become common . It was not just something that had happened to the economy. The crisis was man-made — created by the economic system. Clearly, something is wrong with the models.

Studying crises is important, not just to prevent these calamities and to understand how to respond to them — though I do believe that the same inadequate models that failed to predict the crisis also failed in providing adequate responses. (Although those in the US Administration boast about having prevented another Great Depression, I believe the downturn was certainly far longer, and probably far deeper, than it need to have been.) I also believe understanding the dynamics of crises can provide us insight into the behavior of our economic system in less extreme times.

This lecture consists of three parts. In the first, I will outline the three basic questions posed by deep downturns. In the second, I will sketch the three alternative approaches that have competed with each other over the past three decades, suggesting that one is a far better basis for future research than the other two. The final section will center on one aspect of that third approach that I believe is crucial — credit. I focus on the capitalist economy as a credit economy , and how viewing it in this way changes our understanding of the financial system and monetary policy. …


The crisis in economics The 2008 crisis was not only a crisis in the economy, but it was also a crisis for economics — or at least that should have been the case. As we have noted, the standard models didn’t do very well. The criticism is not just that the models did not anticipate or predict the crisis (even shortly before it occurred); they did not contemplate the possibility of a crisis, or at least a crisis of this sort. Because markets were supposed to be efficient, there weren’t supposed to be bubbles. The shocks to the economy were supposed to be exogenous: this one was created by the market itself. Thus, the standard model said the crisis couldn’t or wouldn’t happen; and the standard model had no insights into what generated it.

Not surprisingly, as we again have noted, the standard models provided inadequate guidance on how to respond. Even after the bubble broke, it was argued that diversification of risk meant that the macroeconomic consequences would be limited. The standard theory also has had little to say about why the downturn has been so prolonged: Years after the onset of the crisis, large parts of the world are operating well below their potential. In some countries and in some dimension, the downturn is as bad or worse than the Great Depression. Moreover, there is a risk of significant hysteresis effects from protracted unemployment, especially of youth.

The Real Business Cycle and New Keynesian Theories got off to a bad start. They originated out of work undertaken in the 1970s attempting to reconcile the two seemingly distant branches of economics, macro-economics, centering on explaining the major market failure of unemployment, and microeconomics, the center piece of which was the Fundamental Theorems of Welfare Economics, demonstrating the efficiency of markets.[66] Real Business Cycle Theory (and its predecessor, New Classical Economics) took one route: using the assumptions of standard micro-economics to construct an analysis of the aggregative behavior of the economy. In doing so, they left Hamlet out of the play: almost by assumption unemployment and other market failures didn’t exist. The timing of their work couldn’t have been worse: for it was just around the same time that economists developed alternative micro-theories, based on asymmetric information, game theory, and behavioral economics, which provided better explanations of a wide range of micro-behavior than did the traditional theory on which the “new macro – economics” was being constructed. At the same time, Sonnenschein (1972) and Mantel (1974) showed that the standard theory provided essentially no structure for macro- economics — essentially any demand or supply function could have been generated by a set of diverse rational consumers. It was the unrealistic assumption of the representative agent that gave theoretical structure to the macro-economic models that were being developed. (As we noted, New Keynesian DSGE models were but a simple variant of these Real Business Cycles, assuming nominal wage and price rigidities — with explanations, we have suggested, that were hardly persuasive.)

There are alternative models to both Real Business Cycles and the New Keynesian DSGE models that provide better insights into the functioning of the macroeconomy, and are more consistent with micro- behavior, with new developments of micro-economics, with what has happened in this and other deep downturns . While these new models differ from the older ones in a multitude of ways, at the center of these models is a wide variety of financial market imperfections and a deep analysis of the process of credit creation. These models provide alternative (and I believe better) insights into what kinds of macroeconomic policies would restore the economy to prosperity and maintain macro-stability.

This lecture has attempted to sketch some elements of these alternative approaches. There is a rich research agenda ahead.

Vir: Joseph E. Stiglitz, Towards a General Theory of Deep Downturns, NBER Working Paper No. 21444, August 2015

One response

  1. Spoštovani, spodaj citirani del zapisa iz članka, ki sem si ga drznil dati v velike črke, je zelo resničen tudi pri nas:
    “While these new models differ from the older ones in a multitude of ways, at the center of these models is a wide variety of FINANCIAL MARKET IMPERFECTIONS AND A DEEP ANALYSIS OF THE PROCESS OF CREDIT CREATION. These models provide alternative (and I believe better) insights into what kinds of macroeconomic policies would restore the economy to prosperity and maintain macro-stability.”

    Slovenski primer namreč kaže, da je v prvi fazi stvar res v tem, kako so ustvarjeni krediti še posebej v razmerah finančnega eldorada. Z vidika ZGD+ZFPPIPP+KPFN so lahko krediti ustvarjeni finančno malomarno ali pa skrbno. Malomarnost, da ne govorim o “naklepnem spregledovanju” (označba dogajanja pri nas s strani BS), potencialno generirata velik obseg kreditov za slabe in tvegane projekte. Citiranemu zapisu pa manjka še uvid, da tudi dominanca in odločanje za tvegane projekte s strani finančnih hazarderjev (“kreativnih” finančnikov = šibka finančna funkcija) v podjetjih predstavlja velik problem.

    Opisano finančno obnašanje malomarnežev in hazarderjev seveda nima nič opraviti z opisom racionalnega posameznika z vidika zdrave rasti in razvoja gospodarstva. Strategije finančno malomarnih lopovov so namreč “racionalne” predvsem z vidika izpostavljanja drugih deležnikov podjetij velikim tveganjem in z vidika med-deležniškega goljufanja in prisvajanja tudi na škodo “going on concerne” podjetij. Dopustitev tega v sistemsko pomembnem obsegu, pa je že stvar dejanske kvalitete delovanja ekonomskega sistema in njegovih deležnikov ter njegovih nadzornikov. Saniranje kvalitete delovanja ekonomskega sistema in odprava finančno malomarnega ravnanja je torej gotovo eden izmed ukrepov za: “restore the economy to prosperity and maintain macro-stability”

    Lep pozdrav Igor

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